How do you decide which career suits you? Though lots of well-meaning advice floats around on these issues, you might find that decision-making on a suitable career is not simple. In a rapidly progressing world where knowledge horizons keep expanding, there is a lot to choose from. Just how do you decide what to choose? When you are about to make a career choice, ask yourself these seven questions:
1. Do you have an aptitude for this kind of work?
In other words, do you have natural abilities or inclinations in this particular line of work? There are some people who are exceptionally good at languages, from childhood. There are others who can do Maths exceptionally well. Some people are good articulating their thoughts or public speaking, and others are good at making friends. The key is to take advantage of your natural talents and inclinations.
2. Is this something you like to do?
Is this a job you would like to do every day of your life, for the rest of your life? Some people just like to read and to write: some others like building things. These hobbies/interests are indicative of what careers they will do well, in the future.
3. Will you be able to earn a decent income?
Does it pay you well, for the kind of life you have in mind? Even if it may not, in the initial years, is there a possibility that it will, eventually? Financial considerations are very important even though they are not the only or the most important criterion, in choosing your career or in deciding on your study choices.
4. Will it give you a decent social status?
We are social animals. We think of ourselves at a certain level in the social strata. All jobs are respectable, but if you choose a job that you believe is below your social status, you may be unhappy all your life.
5. Will this job ensure you stability and security?
No high paying, satisfying job is worth a life time of worry about its stability. There should be a certain predictability about your future in the job. Notoriously unstable, unpredictable careers with low job security, are only for people who can risk everything at the drop of a hat.
6. Do your skills/intellectual capability match the demands of the job?
This is crucial. The job should not be too demanding, in which case it becomes stressful for you. Nor should it be too easy, in which case it becomes boring for you. When there is a match between the demands of the job and your skills/intellectual capability, there is a great chance that you can achieve ‘flow’ states, which are states of mind in which people perform their best, and finds fulfilment. The idea comes from the Hungarian scientist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990).
7. Is this a meaningful job?
Finally, and very importantly, ask yourself the question, whether the job is meaningful to you. Does it align with the values you hold? Does it add meaning to your life? This is one dimension of your job that will make occasional long hours and hard work worth it after all.
The key, evidently, is to be aware of what you are getting into: in other words, the nature of the job you are about to choose. In any case, do not choose your career solely on the basis of:
1. What your family/someone else wants you to choose
2. Which job pays you the most
3. What your friends are choosing.
All the best in your career decisions!
Ref: Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Harper Perennial, USA
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